Siannon Holloway’s love for Christmas led to her opening an online store to allow people to have the feeling of Christmas all year round – never anticipating it would take off as it has.
The Christmas Market at Barrack Heights operates as a warehouse for Christmas and other holiday homewares to sell online but earlier this year Siannon and her husband Kurt also began opening the premises as a showroom on Saturdays for the Illawarra.
She said the business started in April 2020, just as the Illawarra was going into lockdown, but the timing proved perfect. She now has 356,000 followers on Instagram – and growing daily.
“We weren’t actually sure if we were going to be able to go ahead because we weren’t sure if Australian Post was going to close down,” she said.
“These first few years were the best time for us to start a business because everyone was at home shopping online.
“They wanted a sense of hope, something to look forward to, and having Christmas available to people year-round, it became addictive for people.
“Because it is for me, I’m addicted to my own store.”
Siannon said the idea stemmed from many other all-year Christmas stores not being readily available online or through social media.
“The reason I started is because I’m obsessed with Christmas and could never find anything nice, classy and my style that I could shop all year round,” she said.
“I would want to shop for Christmas stuff in March but then you have to wait until September or October for things to come out.
“It was mainly to provide all year round the feeling of Christmas.”
Siannon had previously owned small craft businesses, so she started off with handmade products before receiving her first sample of a Christmas mug.
However, she said the concept of an online Christmas store was new and required her to build trust with her audience, but now customers look forward to her new releases each Sunday night.
“Last Christmas, I think I had 118,000 (Instagram) followers, so it’s more than doubled since then. We’ve had most of our exposure this last 12 months,” she said.
“We’re still seeing so many new customers pop up with their first order and then we’ve also got customers on their 170th order.”
She said its popularity stemmed from a personal touch and being family-focused – her husband and three daughters are all involved in the business.
“They appear in a lot of videos. I feel like my passion is seen through the screen and through everything I do because I’m not just selling stuff to make money, I’m selling stuff that I would use and love,” she said.
“Even when we’ve had quieter points at the beginning of this year, people looked to our Instagram for a sense of joy because they just needed something to hold on to.
“Still to this day, but especially through COVID, the messages we would receive from people saying… ‘I still love looking through your posts every single day’.”
Siannon’s stock is focused on her own brand and US brands of Christmas decor and homewares including ornaments, blankets, trees and cushions.
However, her big dream is a Christmas tree farm, a storefront and running photoshoot sessions.
“The American big farmhouse barn vibe is definitely the big goal,” she said.
“I started from home two and a half years ago in our garage – we renovated the garage, and we didn’t even get to use it because it had grown that fast and I needed more space.
“I had a shipping container arriving and I thought oh my god, we were going to have to put this shipping container in our backyard – that’s how stressed we were.”
Now, she’s occupying two Barrack Heights warehouses but is again in need of more space due to her growth online, with 70 per cent of online orders coming from Australia and the remainder from overseas.
For the Illawarra, she said the showroom opened on Saturdays to allow people to view products in person, but admitted limited time and staff prevented her from opening more.
“Everyone that’s walked in is like ‘Oh my god, it just reminds me of something out of a Hallmark Christmas movie’,” she said.
“We’ve had people from the UK and America visit with family and they’ve said, ‘This is just like home’ and that’s exactly what I wanted it to feel like.”
Siannon said her love for Christmas stemmed from her own childhood surrounded by a big family at Christmas time.
“Christmas for me as a kid was like that magical feeling, waking up and presents nearly as tall as the tree and it was always Christmas crafts, it was the food, it was the baking that you did with grandma,” she said.
She admitted she usually started decorating the family home earlier than most, usually at the end of October.
“I had to do it early this year because I’m doing marketing and filming at the same time,” she said.
“Last year, I didn’t decorate until Christmas Eve and I was really sad about it because I wanted my girls to have that build-up to Christmas that I loved the most as a kid.”
Learn more about The Christmas Market on its website.